How Should a Representative Payee Spend a Child's SSI Benefits?

Submitted by Daniel on

Today we will be addressing a question that came to us through our interactive disability forum. If you have a question regarding any part of the Social Security Disability application process, leave it in the comment section below so that we can answer it in a future blog post. Today’s question is:

How should a representative payee spend a child's SSI benefits?

As the representative payee for your child’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, you are responsible for using the funds appropriately and for keeping accurate records of how the payments are spent.

Standard monthly benefit payments can be managed and used in certain ways, while significant back payments of retroactive benefits must be handled differently.

Dedicated Accounts for SSI Back Payments

If your child has recently been approved for SSI and is due a large back payment of benefits, then you will be required to open a dedicated bank account for the funds and the use of those funds will be subject to very specific restrictions.

  • The dedicated account must be a separate checking, savings, or money market account from the one that is used for standard monthly SSI benefits.
  • The funds in the account must be maintained separately from all other funds, including monthly benefit deposits from SSI.
  • The back payment funds cannot be used to purchase stocks, bonds, CDs, or any other form of secured or unsecured investment.
  • The account must be registered showing your child as the owner of the funds and any and all interest that may be accrued on the account.

Funds from your child’s dedicated account can be spent only on the following:

  • medical treatment and related expenses
  • educational expenses, including job and skills training costs
  • special equipment, skilled nursing assistance, home modification costs, and rehab or therapy expenses

Legal fees due to the attorney that assisted in your child’s SSI claim can also be paid from this account.

Regular Monthly Benefit Payments

Your child’s regular monthly SSI payments can be deposited into your standard savings, checking, or money market account, but you will still need to accurately track the manner in which those funds are spent and report that information to the SSA as required.

Monthly benefit payments can be spent on everyday living expenses and daily support needs. These can include any and all of the items listed under the authorized Dedicated Account spending, as well as the following:

  • food
  • clothing
  • shelter
  • insurance costs
  • medical care
  • child care expenses
  • furnishing
  • personal comfort items

Keep in mind that the above listed items can only be used for the child earning the benefits.

Any monthly benefits that are not needed to pay for your child’s current-month expenses must be saved for future use. Many people find the easiest method for keeping track of their child’s benefit balance and spending details is to have a separate checking and/or savings account specifically for monthly SSI payments.

Periodic Spending Checks

The SSA conducts periodic checks on the spending practices of representative payees. Typically these reviews happen once a year. However, the SSA may require reporting as often as every three months for the duration of your child’s SSI eligibility.

If you aren’t sure if you are spending your child’s benefit payments correctly, you should contact the SSA representative who handles his or her claim. If a child’s payments are spent incorrectly, the representative payee may be required to reimburse any funds that were misused.

Please leave any Social Security Disability questions in the comment section below so that we can answer them in a future blog post!

Blog comments


In reply to by Patricia (not verified)

Hi Patricia,

Hi Patricia,
You may be able to do so, however if you're in doubt you may want to reach out to the SSA to confirm that the purchase is an approved use of benefits.

Mon, 07/31/2017 - 08:52 Permalink
Confident (not verified)

I know someone that gets a

I know someone that gets a child's social security check and blows the child's money welfare pays the rent gets food stamps medicaid etc does his money used for furniture rugs toys etc is the mothers right to spend the money for stuff that's for her house' instead of being used for the child

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 10:21 Permalink

In reply to by Confident (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

That may not constitute as fraud, however if you do suspect fraud the more physical evidence you have the better.


Wed, 08/02/2017 - 10:02 Permalink
shanta johnson (not verified)

Well I need some advice so I

Well I need some advice so I fill out SSI for my son.. the worker said I need to fill out a payee form... why if my case still processing... do t k ow anything bout ssi

Tue, 08/01/2017 - 19:03 Permalink

In reply to by shanta johnson (not verified)

Hi Shanta,

Hi Shanta,

If you are applying for SSI for a child, you need to have an assigned payee if approved, since the child may not be responsible to be in charge of his own benefits.


Wed, 08/02/2017 - 10:00 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Can ex wife use children&#039

Can ex wife use children's money on but wedding deeds for her self and now the new husband is using there money for his personal use I have video of him draw hundred dollars at a time buying his lunch while at work just using most of it on himself and her has well why the house payment and other Bill's or two and there months behind what can I do to stop this where my children are getting the most out of there payments I am in charge as payee over there account how should I handle this

Fri, 08/04/2017 - 18:21 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi there,

Hi there,
You may want to contact the SSA if you suspect a child's benefit is not being used for them, you can contact them at 1-800-772-1213.

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 16:13 Permalink
Carol (not verified)

I want to use my sons

I want to use my sons deticated account to fix are car witch takes him to his appointments for his disability and his worker said no. How do I appeal his reasoning

Tue, 08/08/2017 - 19:48 Permalink

In reply to by Carol (not verified)

Hi Carol,

Hi Carol,

I am sorry to hear that. You can call the SSA and speak to a representative regarding your matter.


Wed, 08/09/2017 - 09:38 Permalink
Tyan (not verified)

I had a child from a one

I had a child from a one night stand. I receive SSDI so that child receives a check since she's only 6. The mother is an active addict and is currently incarcerated. The money never goes to the child. The mother and child are homeless and the child is never with her. Is there any way for the SS office to stop the child's benefits so the mother doesn't get anymore drug money?

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 18:58 Permalink

In reply to by Tyan (not verified)

Hi Tyan,

Hi Tyan,

I would recommend calling the SSA and speaking to a representative immediately. 1-800-772-1213.


Mon, 08/14/2017 - 09:44 Permalink
Patricia (not verified)

We had to move from a house

We had to move from a house we were renting due to it being sold is it ok to use my child's money to help provide shelter

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 20:51 Permalink

In reply to by Patricia (not verified)

Hi Patricia,

Hi Patricia,

It might be, but a good rule of thumb is to always double check with the SSA if you are unsure.


Tue, 08/15/2017 - 09:31 Permalink
joan Ingalls (not verified)

How can I get my son to spend

How can I get my son to spend my granddaughter her Social Security money when he is not using it except for her phone and she can only call him or me because he has blocked her from any other number. She is not living at home right now and she needs that money but he says it is for bills none of hers except the phone

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 00:35 Permalink
Jonny (not verified)

A child I know gets $1500 a

A child I know gets $1500 a month from his deceased fathers Ss. His mother is incapable of controlling him and allows him to use the money irresponsible to. He is 14 and most recently she purchased a car for him that sits in storage and allows him to make payments to her...he buys all the video games he wants, toys, useless items. All this does is enable to think everything is free. Aside from bad parenting, is there anything that can be done to stop his irresponsible spending?

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 14:51 Permalink

In reply to by Jonny (not verified)

Hi Jonny,

Hi Jonny,
As survivor's benefits don't have the restrictions of other types of benefits, it may not be something the SSA can deal with.

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 15:54 Permalink
Janet Hansen (not verified)

l was told by my child's

l was told by my child's uncle that her father is receiving SS payments for her because he is receiving disability. She does not live with him. I am her sole legal guardian. He only has visitation rights. Should he be collecting SS benefits for her ?

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 19:22 Permalink

In reply to by Janet Hansen (not verified)

Hi Janet,

Hi Janet,

Your daughter can receive payments off of her father's disability even if you are her legal guardian.

Best Wishes,

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 09:19 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I just received my daughters

I just received my daughters back pay. The lady at ssi said I can use it for child care expenses. But can it be used for a private sitter.

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 22:27 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

A good rule of thumb is to always check in with the SSA before if you have any specific question on how to spend your child's SSI benefits.


Thu, 08/24/2017 - 09:21 Permalink
Natalie (not verified)

can my sons ssi be used on

can my sons ssi be used on rent or utilities? if so how much of it can?

Fri, 08/25/2017 - 11:18 Permalink
Stephanie (not verified)

Can I use benefits to

Can I use benefits to purchase my son a vehicle?

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 14:13 Permalink
Heather (not verified)

My son that is 1 will be

My son that is 1 will be getting a back time check which is way past the 6month mark there telling me we can only use it to pay for medical assistance but he does not need any he has glaucoma he has tencare and they pay for everything with everything behind from not being able to work can we use this for that

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 14:29 Permalink
Shane R (not verified)

My daughter just got approved

My daughter just got approved for SSI, My question is. Can the back pay be used to move? The goal behind the move is getting my daughter out of a bad neighborhood and into a better school district. I live on SSD myself and funds are short, meaning I can only maintain the current living location. The extra income will help pay for housing in a better location, but need to know if the back pay can help fund a move?

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 12:46 Permalink

In reply to by Shane R (not verified)

Hey Shane,

Hey Shane,

You may be able to, but a good rule of thumb is to always double check with the SSA before just to be sure.

Best of Luck

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 08:58 Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

I was just awarded SSDI and

I was just awarded SSDI and was told I will get money for my children. Will the children receive SSI? In regards to the separate account for the backpay, can I use it toward morgage? I am currently in foreclosure due to waiting for this decision. How about a percentage of the normal shelter costs of a home...heat, water, phone...? I read it can be used for the legal expenses of the lawyer in the SS hearing. How much of it? Thank you for helping!

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 22:13 Permalink

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

Your children can receive auxiliary benefits off of your SSDI. If any of your children have a disability then they could qualify for SSI, but they can't qualify for SSI just because you qualify for SSDI.

You may be able to use the backpay for your mortgage, but a good rule of thumb is to always double check with the SSA before.

Best of Luck,

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 09:56 Permalink
David (not verified)

I know I family they have

I know I family they have four children to mom and dad neither one of the parents works but two of the children gets SSI benefits so it's safe to say that they live solely off of the children's SSI along with food stamps is this OK

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 11:59 Permalink
Connie (not verified)

Hi if a child gets his back

Hi if a child gets his back pay . Can that be used to buy him a new bed set an mattress an box spring ? An clothing ? An he also would like a tv or atv ?? As to some children dont need special equipment an other special needs such as treatment center an listed in your above statement so just curious if they dont need that stuff what can you spend the back pay on for the child reciving it ??? Tia ..

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 12:01 Permalink

In reply to by Connie (not verified)

Hi Connie,

Hi Connie,

A good rule of thumb is to always double check with the SSA with any questions on how you should spend your child's SSI benefits. Better safe than sorry!

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 09:50 Permalink
Latonya (not verified)

I am a payee but I have

I am a payee but I have family that's demanding to know her benefits and banking information. What are my rights.

Fri, 09/08/2017 - 15:30 Permalink

In reply to by Latonya (not verified)

Hi Latonya,

Hi Latonya,
You may want to communicate to them what you are doing, however if you are the payee you may not need to give them access to the account. You may want to contact the SSA regarding this.

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 10:58 Permalink
Kimberly (not verified)

My husband's son will

My husband's son will soon be receiving SS, through his SSDI. His son lives with his Mom, he has no parental rights. The Mom has been to court & in and out of trouble. Is there any way we can put restrictions on how she spends the money, or anything? I am the payee for my husband & daughter

Sat, 09/09/2017 - 12:15 Permalink

In reply to by Kimberly (not verified)

Hi Kimberly,

Hi Kimberly,
You may want to contact the SSA regarding this and have them assign a third-party payee if this is the case.

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 11:02 Permalink
Confused Aunty (not verified)

I have recently became my

I have recently became my niece's representative payee for her SSI Benefits. I was asked to do so after her mother did not turn in paperwork required by SSI, which resulted in my niece's benefits being terminated. After 4 - 5 months, my niece's dad initiated her benefits once again, being 50% her custodial parent. My niece resides in both homes, her mother's 50%, and my home 50%. My number 1 priority is to meet all of my niece's expenses and personal needs. All of her food, housing, personal, and recreational care are being met here. Her mother recently texted my niece's dad and requested that he pay her $300 utility bill and $1100 rent. My niece's dad already pays child support for her. My question is, as payee representative for my niece, can her mother request that I pay ANY utility bill or monthly rent? As a minor, is my niece ever obligated to pay for such expenses? Like household bills and rent?

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:10 Permalink
Lasy (not verified)



My husband as a son who is 16 years old and has autism. he is receiving ssi every month but her mom is the one handling his money. I believe her mom doesn't use the money for the his son instead uses for his own benefit. Is there anyway my husband could ask for change of receiving payee? They have both equal physical custody of their son plus my husband is paying child support every month too.

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 18:57 Permalink

In reply to by Lasy (not verified)

Hi There,

Hi There,

It's definitely possible. He would have to make an appointment at his local SSA office to see what his options are.

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 09:03 Permalink
JB (not verified)

Due to my disability, my

Due to my disability, my children just received a lump sum as well as a monthly benefit. Their mother (my ex) is the representative payee. I am concerned with how she will spend this money since she refuses to work and is supported by her boyfriend. She receives monthly child support from me as well as the monthly SSDI benefit so there is absolutely no reason for her to ever need to touch that lump sum for the kids. I want my kids to have college funds and since I'm not the rep payee, I have no say so in how this money is used. Is this money required to be in a dedicated account for them and is she required to show how she uses this money? She hasn't had a bank of money to go to before for extra expenses and has been taking care of the kids perfectly fine on what she receives from me monthly. Can I mandate or get a court order that this money is strictly for college or not given to them until they're 18? I trust an 18 year old with thousands more than I do her.

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 08:53 Permalink

In reply to by JB (not verified)

Hi JB,

Hi JB,
Generally, recipients of SSDI benefits have fewer restrictions on how those benefits can be spent than recipients of income-based benefits. I'm not sure about mandating how the funds can be used, but you may want to refer to your state's laws on child support and SSDI auxiliary benefits if you have not already, as your obligations may change if they are receiving monthly benefits based off of your work record.

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 09:27 Permalink
Concerned step… (not verified)

My step son gets ssi benefits

My step son gets ssi benefits and his mother pays all of the household bills with the childs money every month my step son calls us and asks for money for hair cuts school uniforms and lunch money and when asked what happened with all your money his reply is my mom needs it to pay all her bills is that using his benefits properly?

Fri, 09/15/2017 - 00:24 Permalink
Joseph (not verified)

If someone's kid gets

If someone's kid gets SSI and the parents don't spend any money on kid and the parents have know responsibility know rent they live with grandparents,and the parents spends all kids SSI on drugs and there personal addiction how can you report this,and what would happen

Sat, 09/16/2017 - 11:29 Permalink
Michele Adams (not verified)

My daughter just got approved

My daughter just got approved for SSI. I will be going into the SS office Thursday to sign papers to become the payee. My question is can I use any of that to get caught up on our mortgage payments? I know the monthly payments can be used for bills but we got pretty far behind on some of our bills so I'm not sure how that would work considering it's for her housing? Thank you

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 12:46 Permalink

Add new comment

Find Out If I Qualify for Benefits!